DULUTH, Ga. (7/9/14)--In a recent survey by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA), more than 71% of respondents said saving for a college degree is worth the financial investment, with 60% answering that saving for college in general was important to them.
The Mid-Year 2014 Consumer Survey also found that only about 20% of people believe students loans are a good way to pay for a college education, a result that could be driven by ever-escalating costs to attend college.
A recent evaluation of college pricing, reported by GCUA, found that as prices rise for education, so does student debt.
But considering the long-term benefits of receiving a college degree--Americans with a four-year degree make an average of 98% more than those without, according to the Economic Policy Institute in Washington--people still find it imperative to save.
"With tuition costs on the rise, it is important for consumers to begin planning their financing as soon as possible," said Laura Sterling, vice president, Georgia's Own CU, Atlanta, with $1.9 billion in assets. "Even if you have been proactively saving for college, it does not guarantee you won't need financial assistance, and student loans are a great help."
GCUA offers several college savings-related tips, including starting to save as soon as possible, seeking assistance from a financial adviser and researching different ways to save for college.
Sterling, meanwhile, suggests the types of questions those considering taking out a student loan should ask themselves before they sign on the dotted line.
"How much can you afford? Is the school worth the cost of education? How long will it take to pay back the loan?" Sterling said. "What kind of income will you make after you graduate, and what is the job market like in that field?"
Sterling also notes that federal student loans funded by the government can carry less risk and that they're often less expensive than other types of financing options.
"If you need assistance paying for college, it is generally a good rule of thumb to consider federal loans first," Sterling said.